I’ve finally completed my race review of the San Francisco Marathon! It’s a little lengthy, but so is a marathon!
The San Francisco Marathon
Sunday, July 27th 2014
Price: I paid $175 for the full marathon, but if you plan and register early you can get in for as low as $115. YES this is a pricey race; however, in a city that boasts an average of about $3400 for a 2 bedroom apartment rental, I’m guessing shutting down San Francisco costs a pretty penny.
Expo: The SF Marathon Expo was held at the Fort Mason Center, which is a change of venue over the last 2 years. One of the BEST things about this new location is parking: there are tons of FREE PARKING LOTS in the vicinity, which is almost unheard of in San Francisco.
View of the Golden Gate from our parking spot…not bad, eh?
My boyfriend, Rich, and I were able to find parking immediately, and walked to the expo in 5 minutes.
The SF Marathon expo is always a good one: organized, with plenty of vendors and photo ops.
We attended on Friday evening and there was no wait to pick up our bibs and shirts. I can’t speak for Saturday, which was undoubtedly busier.
I remember feeling the race-day jitters really kick in as Rich left me for the half marathon tables (he would be running the second half of the course) and I walked up to pick up my “Full Marathon” bib for the first time for this race. I’ve run the first half marathon twice in a row, but I never imagined I would be crazy enough to run the full!
Last year the tech shirts were a bit of a misstep (I heart you SF Marathon but they were 3/4 sleeves, even for men??). The 2014 shirts are much nicer this year: wearable colors and proper fit.
After collecting our bibs, race shirts, beer wristbands, snacking on samples and taking a few pictures…
…we headed out. My favorite thing about the change of venue is that every Friday the Fort Mason Center hosts an Off The Grid food truck festival!
I had a few extra calories to burn on Sunday, so I was more than happy to partake in the food:
Korean Fried Chicken Waffle Sandwich, don’t mind if I do
Race Day: I’ve run most races on less than 3 hours of sleep, but I was hoping to snag a few hours of shut-eye before the big race. Part of it is nerves, and part of it is my A-typical work schedule, as I generally work from 4pm to 1am (and as late as 3am on weekends!).
Unfortunately, I never fell asleep the night before the marathon. I was absolutely exhausted, and initially left the house without my water bottle and fuel! I had to turn around and gather my things, and then on my second attempt at driving to the race I ran a red light! It was a rough start to the day.
The Starting Line:
G’morning Bay Bridge!
Since I had to go back home, I arrived at the starting line at the Ferry Building with only a few minutes to spare. Bag check was cake, and I was in the corral in minutes; however, I did not get to warm up. I was assigned to corral 6 but I think I ended up in corral 7. Sleep deprivation was obviously interfering with my ability to navigate. There is always so much energy at the starting line, though, and adrenaline took over: I was so excited to run! I took a breath and said eff it…I trained for this, I’ll sleep when I am dead and I’m GOING TO DO IT!
Miles 1-4: Mostly flat and easy with one hill at Fort Mason. This part of the course is scenic along the ocean, touristy (Alcatraz, Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf) and crowded with both full and first half marathoners. My goal for the first half was to conserve energy and I was very conscious of not starting out too fast.
Miles 4-6: And this is where the hills begin. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you train for hills they are totally manageable. They don’t last forever.
Miles 6-9: Running the Golden Gate Bridge is a huge seller for running this race, but it was UNGODLY packed this year. I’ve confirmed this with other runners, and it has never been this bad before so I don’t know what happened. My pace disappointingly slowed considerably. Rather than trying to weave through the crowd and waste energy and add mileage, I decided to just take the experience for what it was: a dream moment of running across the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.
Miles 9-13: The Presidio and Richmond District. Lots of up and downhill. Mostly up. Miles 11-13 are a continuous gain in elevation.
Miles 13-19: Golden Gate Park. The race splits in 2, and the first half marathoners head to their finish line and the course becomes considerably less congested. We meet up with the second half marathoners at some point in the park, but it is never overly crowded. There is a sneaky, subtle incline between miles 14 all the way through 19, which I found to be the most tedious part of the race. The temperature was also starting to heat up. My hands were so sweaty that I wasn’t able to open up my gels and had to stop on the sidelines a couple times to open and eat them. I came prepared for the heat by carrying my own water bottle, knowing that SF experienced record high temps the week prior to the race. I was able to refill my bottle twice along the course at aid stations, which would prove immensely helpful in the final miles of the race when the temperature really started to spike.
Miles 19-22: Exiting the park. I was so happy for the change of scenery as we ran down Haight Street! The sun was out in full force, and I was preparing myself to run head on into the Wall at any minute. But it never happened! I was tired for sure, maybe even a little delirious having been up for over 24 hours at this point, but I NEVER faced that soul-crushing-I’m-never-going-to-finish-every-bone-in-my-body-hurts-running-sucks-I-want-my-mommy moment. I allowed myself to walk for about 60 seconds at mile 22 to catch my breath, but that was the only time I walked along the course.
Miles 22-24: Running through the Mission. I live in the Mission so I’m very familiar with the territory. The last real hill of the course is at mile 22, and once I was up and over I knew it was smooth sailing to the finish line. It was uncomfortably hot outside, and the sun beating down was wearing on everyone. People were really starting to walk. As annoying as carrying a water bottle can be, I was so grateful. I was running a little slower than ideal, and I had to pour water on myself a few times to cool off, but I wanted to resist having to walk.
Miles 24-26.2: The home stretch. I had plenty of energy saved up for these last miles! I was running happy, and excited knowing I would finish my second marathon very shortly. I saw several people on the sidelines, being tended to by medics, which was a little alarming.
The Finish Line: I finished the race at a sprint and I was all smiles!
I immediately tried to find Rich, but my phone had died sometime during the race. After searching through the crowd for about a half hour, I finally found him. With flowers 🙂
For me! Notgonnalie. I may have shed a couple tears.
The mood at the finish line was festive and celebratory! We were provided with plenty of snacks and fluids to replenish. And no race would be complete without free beer…
I introduce to you, the best beer I’ve ever had
The medal I received for the marathon is my favorite one to date!
It’s HUGE and amazing and I will love it forever
My Official Stats:
Finish Time: 4:39:01
Women Age 30-34: 181/452
Overall Place: 3356/6625
I had a brief moment of the slightest disappointment when I saw my finish time, as I felt like I could have pushed a little more. We can sometimes be our own worst critics. I had to remind myself that in June, which should have been my peak month in mileage in training for this race, I only ran about 60 miles because I got sick. Twice.When I was able to resume training, I decided to throw a solid time goal out the window and focus on just finishing. I troopered through the race up hills, on no sleep and remained unscathed by The Wall. I met my goal of finishing the San Francisco Marathon, PR’d, and lived to tell the tale!
A couple things I should note: I found out later that some of the aid stations eventually ran out of water, and there were timing issues with certain winners of the race-but I was unaffected.
Also a HUGE bonus: we were provided with FREE race photos! So I can remember all my special moments, like this one:
Running the San Francisco Marathon for the first time is a day I will remember forever. The race is a beautiful journey through The City and I will absolutely run it again!
If you made it all the way through this post, bravo and thank you for reading!